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Million Dollar Grant Boosts Undergraduate Research at JSC

$1 Million Grant Will Boost Undergraduate Research at Johnson State College

September 30, 2011

The Vermont Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VT EPSCoR) at the University of Vermont has received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation for the next two years to connect the Vermont State Colleges (VSC) and the University of Vermont with high-speed fiber optic cables and other information-sharing technologies.

The new service between UVM and the VSC data hub will allow Johnson State College (JSC) and other VSC institutions to participate more fully in collaborative research with UVM scientists and educators. By increasing connection speeds from 300 megabytes per second to 10 gigabytes per second, this enhanced “cyber-infrastructure” will allow scientists at various institutions to share huge pools of data.

In addition to enhancing data exchange among researchers and partner institutions within the Vermont, the increased capacity will support the development of new courses and opportunities for students seeking careers in science and technology, notes VSC Chancellor Tim Donovan. One of those new courses is a bioinformatics course at JSC, which will be offered to the entire VSC system in spring 2012 and taught in part by UVM faculty. The grant also makes it possible for JSC to add a new position: a cyber specialist who will assist VSC faculty and others in the use of cyber tools.

“This collaboration between UVM and the Vermont State Colleges will provide new opportunities for our students to experience science as it is done in research universities throughout the country,” says Dr. Elizabeth Dolci, chair of JSC’s Environmental & Health Sciences Department. “For me professionally, the improved cyber-infrastructure will facilitate my work with the large data sets that my research project will generate over the next few years.”

The new in-state system will connect to a larger “fiber ring” through Albany, N.Y., and Hanover, N.H., that will help connect Vermont with “Internet2,” a networking consortium involving hundreds of U.S. research universities and corporations. Vermont businesses will be able to access the fiber ring as well.

As part of an Internet2 initiative, the award also will provide funding to connect a network of K-12 schools, libraries, museums, art galleries and hospitals in Vermont, making many new resources available to Vermont community institutions.